Best Practice: Health and Wellbeing
Last Friday, Women in Health and Safety (WIHS) invited us to be part of a fantastically insightful discussion on wellbeing in the construction industry.
Hosted, by Barbour EHS and moderated by Heather Beach, founder of The Healthy Work Company, the event took place on the 19th floor of UBM’s offices, with a gorgeous view over Blackfriars as a backdrop
Heather started the discussion by citing Markus Aurelius “life is not merely being alive but being well” as the sun set over London and then proceeded to chair a fantastic panel discussion.
The panel included Dr Judith Grant from Mace, Jennie Armstrong from Thames Tideway and Heike Grimm from Multiplex.
Although it would be difficult to cover all the topics the panel discussed, we will highlight a few key best practices which may be of use to you and your companies organised by topic :
- All speakers agreed that training is key to raise standards in projects and that it has to be done in such a way that the individuals involved buy into the reasons behind it.
- TTT shared that given main contractors employ a very limited amount of people and one cannot contract people to care, it is key to partner with subcontractors whose leadership shares the Main Contractor’s vision. After all it will be them who interact with the workers and who will have the biggest impact on their wellbeing.
- At Multiplex they teach laborers healthy practices in such a way that they can adopt them into their everyday lives becoming healthier as time progresses.
Monitoring well being:
- Mace recently carried out a very detailed survey to gain an overview of the current status of their workforce and to build a business case in support of their mental health and wellbeing programme.
- TTT has a “whole person” approach whereby they aim at looking after the Physical, mental and Social wellbeing of their team using regular communication through surveys.
- Multiplex has a policy by which office-based employees must spend two hours each month on site taking an interest for those working on site in order to gauge, first hand, how they are feeling or whether there is something which needs to be addressed.
- Given pressure mounts most significantly on subcontractors, particularly around the time of completion, Main Contractors should make a bigger effort in providing relevant mental health and wellbeing training to reduce risks and accidents
- Furthermore, Multiplex explained, when the subcontractors are good at their jobs but make an error due to mounting pressures, Main Contractors should make an effort to support them to get back on track rather than simply put all the blame on them
- It is important to remind the workforce of the ultimate goal. “Am i chipping a tone or building a cathedral” as Heather reminded us
- Another suggestion by Multiplex, discussed in the context of motivating the workforce and increasing their wellbeing was rotating physically demanding roles to break the routine. in practice, this can help raise engagement levels and increase job satisfaction
Further food for thought (Questions which remained un-answered)
- “When looking at a healthy workplace, what is the right number of people we should manage in order to look after them in the best possible way?
- “What role can the contract have reducing the pressure on subcontractors?”
At the end of the discussion, our committee members Rumana Begum (Education) and Deepika Singhal (CDP Compliance) thanked the hosts and provided an insight on the work our team does and encourages attendees to get involved in our activities.
We would like to thank Heather for organising this event and for allowing us to be part of it. The amazing panelists for their insight, Barbour for hosting it and in general Women in Health and Safety for giving us such a warm welcome.